'We share the man with the world'
TODAY is Mandela Day, the 93rd birthday of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born July 18 1918.
Affectionately known to all South Africans by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, and Tata (Xhosa for father), Mandela represents many things: the importance of respecting others, the importance of standing by our beliefs, dignity, equality, humility, strength, determination, selflessness and above all, forgiveness.
Much-loved the world over, Madiba has received more than 250 awards from around the globe, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. He is a natural born leader, whose belief in standing up for what is right and fair saw him incarcerated on Robben Island for 27 years.
South Africans view Madiba as their own, but then, so does the entire world.
He is a man whose very presence and all he stands for cannot be confined to a single country. We share Tata Madiba with the world.
To honour Mandela the United Nations launched Nelson Mandela International Day in 2009. Inaugurated in 2010, the day symbolises a call to action for people across the world to take responsibility for making the world a better place, improving life for themselves and for others, one small step at a time.
The Mandela Day slogan, "Take action. Inspire change. Make every day a Mandela day", is aimed at encouraging people to make a difference by working for positive change.
How can we make that change? Start simple: devote just 67 minutes (symbolising the 67 years Mandela devoted to fighting for human rights) of your time on Mandela Day to helping others and making positive change.
It's easy. Just look around you and you'll find a needy cause. Achmat Dangor, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, suggests a host of potential activities.
"They could range from helping clean or upgrade public facilities like schools, orphanages and clinics, donating books to community libraries, doctors volunteering their leisure time, learners and educators teaching others what our country's flag and constitution stands for.
"It is our hope that these efforts, taken together, will lead to the unfolding of a national movement of good among South Africans that transcends race, culture and ideology," Dangor says.